I started reloading because of higher caliber ammo (.270, .308, and 30-06). I received a Hornady Starter Kit ($249 on sale) and each die set was $35 or so. Hornady has a promotion for free bullets (500 for the kit and 100 each for each die). Only cost for that was shipping, total for free bullets was $50. I spent another $200 dollars on accesorries (primer, tumbler, trimmer and case prep). Each powder was about $25 at LGS (Each pound can make about 100 large caliber ammo). So far my cost was $804. The results were 400 rds of .308, 200 rds of .270 and 200 rds of 30-06. So roughly it cost me $1 per round which is about street value for those caliber.
But now I have all this reloading equipment that has paid for itself so when I decided to reload .223 at $25 for a lb of powder (each can can load rought 250 cases) and $50 for 500 bullets (Hornady 55 gr FMJ), brass is free (well at least the ones I collected , the ones I shot and the ones someone left at the range) and $20 for primers. The die again is $35 (I got 100 free bullets again) and for good measures I bought an extra powder measure insert $20. So my cost for 500 rds of .223 ammo is $175. It does not seem like much of a deal since I can buy 500 rds of XM193 for $153.
So where does all the savings come from? Well I keep reloading. I buy 500 more bullets ($50) and two more lbs of powder ($50) and primer ($20). $120 for 500 rds. Not bad. I do this a few more times and maybe its not such a bad deal after all.
I go through on average about 250 rounds with my AR per trip to the range. I go to the range at least twice a month. That's roughly 6000 rounds in a year. I think I see the savings of reloading!
Well what about the time spent reloading. Have I figured out how much that cost? It's my hobby so it does not cost me anything. That would be like saying it cost me $30 to ride my bike for an hour.
While not everyone has the same experience or cost with their reloading, I have to say, it works for me. My reloads also outshoot bulk ammo (less than 1 MOA). If you only shoot about 500 a year with your AR, it's probably not economical for you to reload. So not saying its the best option, but it is a good one.